A small fire was quickly brought
Two cars have exploded at the gates of Saudi Arabia’s huge Abqaiq oil facility after security forces fired on suicide bombers trying to storm the world’s biggest oil processing plant.
Saudi security adviser Nawaf Obaid said security forces fired on three cars on Friday at the outer gates of the Abqaiq facility, 1.5km from the main entrance.
He said that one car carrying gunmen and packed with explosives, rammed the gates It was not clear how many militants were involved in the attack, but all had been killed.
Security sources in Riyadh said four attackers and two security officers died and two other officers were wounded
Mansour al-Turki, the Interior Ministry spokesman, told the state television earlier that six workers were also lightly injured. Security forces were combing the site for evidence. "We have yet to determine the identity of the attackers. We are currently checking DNA samples," al-Turki said. In an internet statement, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attack.
The statement, posted on a web site often used by militant groups, said two of its members carried out the suicide operation but gave no details. The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.
Output unaffected Ali al-Naimi, the oil minister, quoted by the Saudi Press Agency, said a small fire was quickly brought under control after the incident which he said took place at 3.10pm (1210 GMT).
Al Naimi said oil and gas output was unaffected by the "terrorist attempt", the first direct strike on a Saudi oil target since al-Qaida fighters launched attacks aimed at toppling Saudi Arabia’s pro-Western monarchy in 2003.
Oil prices jumped $2 a barrel on news of the attack in the world’s largest oil exporter, which came a year after Saudi-born Osama bin Laden urged his supporters to hit Gulf oil targets.
Most Saudi oil is exported from the Gulf via the huge producing, pumping and processing facility at Abqaiq, also known locally as Baqiq, in the mainly Shia Eastern Province.
Robert Baer, the former Middle East CIA field officer, has described Abqaiq as "the most vulnerable point and most spectacular target in the Saudi oil system".
Gary Ross, CEO at PIRA Energy consultancy in New York said: "It’s not clear what damage there is but Abqaiq is the world’s most important oil facility,"
"This just emphasises fears over global oil supply security when we’re already facing major ongoing risks in Nigeria, Iran and Iraq."
"This just emphasises fears over global oil supply security when we’re already facing major ongoing risks in Nigeria, Iran and Iraq"
But Aramco says it has the tightest security at all its oil plants, including helicopters, cameras, motion detectors and thousands of armed guards.
Abqaiq handles crude pumped from the giant Ghawar field and ships it off to terminals Ras Tanura, the world’s biggest offshore oil loading facility, and Juaymah.
It also pumps oil westwards across the kingdom to Red Sea export terminals.
Friday’s attack was the first major strike by militants in Saudi Arabia since suicide bombers tried to storm the Interior Ministry in Riyadh in December 2004.
The prospect of a direct attack on Saudi crude facilities has been a doomsday scenario for oil consumer nations heavily reliant on Saudi oil.
The kingdom accounts for around a sixth of the world’s oil exports, supplying 7.5 million barrels a day